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The City Journals

Midvale schools celebrate its diversity through culture, traditions, arts

Jul 01, 2022 08:56AM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Hundreds came to learn a little about another country and share about their own.

The long-awaited multicultural night celebrated the diversity of Midvale Middle School students.

“The idea is to highlight our students, their countries of origin and their cultures they love to talk about,” Midvale Middle Assistant Principal Courtney Long said. “We collaborated with teachers for students to make posters and trifold presentation boards. We have about 50 to 60 counties highlighted by our students.”

Long added that the trifolds were voluntary.

“The students were excited to share about their countries,” he said.

In addition to those set up in the forum, students took to the stage to sing and dance. There were 14 different performances.

“We had numbers from Samoa, Tonga, Hawaii, Latino, Pacific Islander, India, Rwanda and Mexico,” Long said. “We also had talk by a parent from South Sudan, which is one of the newest countries in the world; and one of our students who is from Iraq wrote and shared a poem about where he’s from and what the country means to him.”

Food trucks with Swahili samosas, Colombian empanadas, Mexican tacos and Hawaiian ices were available for the 600 people who came to support the multicultural night.

“It was an awesome turnout of our community. People loved learning from the students about their native countries and seeing them perform. There’s been nothing like this that the community has been able to support and celebrate for years. It was just incredible,” he said. “We all learned some things and we’re excited to do it again.”

In fact, the date for next year’s multicultural night has been set for May 11.

Long said that student body officers and Latinos in Action helped with the night’s activities, which were coordinated by Jessica Olmos.

The planning for a night to celebrate the diversity within Midvale Middle School began more than two years ago, but it got postponed because of the health and safety guidelines surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

The school houses about 950 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students, serving 70% who are identified as non-Caucasian. The largest portion is 47% Hispanics, with Asians and African American/Blacks around 5% each. Pacific Islanders at 3% and American Indian and multi-races at 1.5% and 0.5%, respectively. About 15 different languages are spoken.

“One of the greatest things about Midvale Middle School that separates us from many schools is our diversity and we wanted to celebrate our kids and the world we live in and show those differences actually unites us as human beings and citizens in our community,” Long said. “The more we can come together to learn about one another and understand each other a little bit more, will lead us to a more unified community, a community for the good of our students, their education and creating a better life for themselves and families. We don’t want kids to shy away from who they are, but rather celebrate who they are and where they come from.”

Hillcrest High also held a cultural week where students wore traditional clothing from their countries, collected flag stickers, invited Korean and Mexican food or Hawaiian ice food trucks, played trivia and ate crepes made by the French club.

A student-produced video was shown in place of an assembly that began with the ASL students signing the pledge and featured student leaders sharing about their native countries: India, Iran, Iraq, Korea, Pakistan, Peru and Vietnam. Students shared dances from China, India, Latin America, Japan, South Korea and Thailand.

The Midvale-based high school with an enrollment of 2,093 students has 34 different languages spoken, according to Canyons School District statistics.

Hillcrest Principal Greg Leavitt said that Hispanics are the second largest demographic group at 25.9% behind Caucasians. That is followed by Asian at 8.9% and African American/Black at 3.3%. Pacific Islander, American Indian and multi-races are the remaining percentages.